ENDORPHINS: KEY TO NATURAL HAPPINESS

Scientists believe that endorphins and pain are connected because the body releases endorphins to help combat the effects of physical pain and stress. These neurotransmitters have an effect on the brain that is often compared to that of morphine or other opiate drugs, in that endorphins and opiate drugs affect the same receptors in the brain. Endorphins and pain are connected because pain can cause the release of endorphins in the brain, but other activities are also believed to release endorphins. Laughter, physical contact with loved ones, sex, childbirth, strenuous exercise, and eating certain foods are also believed to cause the release of endorphins. Experts believe that endorphins can help people bond with one another, overcome physical and mental fatigue, and cope with extreme pain.
Not everyone releases the same amounts of endorphins with the same amounts of stimulus. Of all possible stimuli for the release of these neurotransmitters, endorphins and pain are usually most strongly linked. It is believed that the primary function of endorphins is to attach themselves to the brain’s opioid receptors, dampening feelings of physical pain. At the same time, endorphins can also enhance feelings of well-being and pleasure. They typically do this by stifling neural activity in the cerebral cortex and thalamus regions of the brain. These regions of the brain are considered responsible for registering feelings of physical pain, so that when activity there is diminished, levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine rise in the area.
The brain’s release of endorphins can cause feelings of calm and euphoria. Immunity may be strengthened, appetite may change, and the hormones that regulate sex drive may become more balanced. The connection between endorphins and pain has been implicated in several well-known phenomena, including the mother’s ability to endure the pain of childbirth and the feelings of well-being one may experience after strenuous physical exercise.






PINCHED NERVE DIAGNOSIS?

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and conduct a physical examination.
If your doctor suspects a pinched nerve, you may undergo some tests. These tests may include:

-Nerve conduction study. This test measures electrical nerve impulses and functioning in your muscles and nerves. A specialist places electrodes on your skin. The study measures the electrical impulses in your nerve signals when a small current passes through the nerve.
Test results tell your doctor whether you have a damaged nerve.
-Electromyography. During an EMG, your doctor inserts a needle electrode through your skin into various muscles. The test evaluates the electrical activity of your muscles when they contract and when they’re at rest.
Test results tell your doctor if there is damage to the nerves leading to the muscle.
-Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed views of your body in multiple planes.
This test may be used if your doctor suspects you have nerve root compression.






Pinched Nerve? Get the Tested!

A pinched nerve occurs when too much pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues, such as bones, cartilage, muscles or tendons. This pressure disrupts the nerve’s function, causing pain, tingling, numbness or weakness.
A pinched nerve can occur at several sites in your body. A herniated disk in your lower spine, for example, may put pressure on a nerve root, causing pain that radiates down the back of your leg. Likewise, a pinched nerve in your wrist can lead to pain and numbness in your hand and fingers (carpal tunnel syndrome).
With rest and other conservative treatments, most people recover from a pinched nerve within a few days or weeks. Sometimes, surgery is needed to relieve pain from a pinched nerve. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and conduct a physical examination.
If your doctor suspects a pinched nerve, you may undergo some tests. These tests may include:
Nerve conduction study. This test measures electrical nerve impulses and functioning in your muscles and nerves. A specialist places electrodes on your skin. The study measures the electrical impulses in your nerve signals when a small current passes through the nerve.
Test results tell your doctor whether you have a damaged nerve.
Electromyography. During an EMG, your doctor inserts a needle electrode through your skin into various muscles. The test evaluates the electrical activity of your muscles when they contract and when they’re at rest.
Test results tell your doctor if there is damage to the nerves leading to the muscle.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This test uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed views of your body in multiple planes.
This test may be used if your doctor suspects you have nerve root compression.






Risk of a Nuclear Exam

A nuclear stress test is generally safe, and complications are rare. But, as with any medical procedure, it does carry a risk of complications.
Potential complications include:
-Allergic reaction. It’s possible you could be allergic to the radioactive dye that’s injected into a vein in your hand or arm during a nuclear stress test.
-Low blood pressure. Blood pressure may drop during or immediately after exercise and cause dizziness. It usually goes away when you stop exercising.
-Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Arrhythmia’s brought on by an exercise stress test usually go away shortly after you stop exercising. Life-threatening arrhythmias are rare and usually occur in individuals with severe heart disease.
-Heart attack (myocardial infarction). Although very rare, it’s possible that a nuclear stress test could cause a heart attack.
-Flushing sensation or chest pain. These symptoms can occur when you are given a medication to stress your heart if you’re unable to exercise adequately. These symptoms are usually brief, but tell your doctor if you experience them.






PAD: Hidden Problem in Women

Women tend to develop symptoms of peripheral artery disease in their 60s and 70s—a decade later than men. By then, women may have other conditions like arthritis or nerve damage that can mask the symptoms and delay diagnosis until the disease is fairly far advanced. If you have any of the symptoms listed bellow ask your doctor if you should have a workup for peripheral artery disease. Early action can make you feel better, and keep your arms and legs functioning.
If ever a disease deserved a new name, peripheral artery disease is it. “Peripheral” smacks of something on the sidelines. Nothing could be further from the truth. Peripheral artery disease affects at least 12 million Americans, more than heart disease and stroke combined. It kills some, maims others, and makes life disagreeable or unbearable for countless more. The condition is often overlooked or misdiagnosed in women, according to Harvard Women’s Health Watch.
Although peripheral artery disease us ually affects the legs, it can also affect the arms. Symptoms include:
pain, cramping, or heaviness with exercise or movement that subsides with rest
painful, cold, numb, or tingling legs or hands
sores on the legs, feet, arms, or hands that don’t heal.

Any of these symptoms warrant a closer look. Peripheral artery disease is generally diagnosed with a test called the ankle-brachial index, which compares blood pressure in the arm with blood pressure at the ankle.
Lifestyle changes are often the first step in fighting peripheral artery disease. Exercise can help open arteries and improve blood flow. Managing cholesterol and blood pressure, and not smoking, are also important.






The Ischemic Foot

The term “ischemic foot” refers to a lack of adequate arterial blood flow from the heart to the foot. There are a wide variety of possible causes for poor arterial circulation into the foot including arterial blockage from cholesterol deposits, arterial blood clots, arterial spasm, or arterial injury. The ischemic foot is also referred to as having arterial insufficiency, meaning there is not enough blood reaching the foot to provide the oxygen and nutrient needs required for the cells to continue to function.
Diagnosis
The result of insufficient blood supply to the foot can manifest itself in a variety of ways depending upon how severe the impairment to circulation. Early symptoms may include cold feet, purple or red discoloration of the toes, or muscle cramping after walking short distances (intermittent claudication). Later findings may include a sore that won’t heal (ischemic ulcer), pain at night while resting in bed, or tissue death to part of the foot (gangrene).
The diagnosis of ischemia is made by reviewing the patient’s symptoms, examination of the foot, and special testing to evaluate the circulation. The examination should reveal cold skin temperature, and skin atrophy that causes the skin to appear shiny or paper thin with loss of normal hair on tops of the toes and on the lower leg. There is often a color change associated with ischemic feet.
Video: Ischemia






What is Stable Angina?

Stable angina is the most common form of angina and typically occurs with exertion and goes away with rest. If chest discomfort is a new symptom for you, it’s important to see your doctor to find out what’s causing your chest pain and to get proper treatment. If your stable angina gets worse or changes, seek medical attention immediately.
Characteristics of stable angina:
-Develops when your heart works harder, such as when you exercise or climb stairs
-Can usually be predicted and the pain is usually similar to previous types of chest pain you’ve had
-Lasts a short time, perhaps five minutes or less
-Disappears sooner if you rest or use your angina medication






What is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressively painful hand and arm condition caused by a pinched nerve in your wrist. A number of factors can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome, including the anatomy of your wrist, certain underlying health problems and possibly patterns of hand use.
Bound by bones and ligaments, the carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway — about as big around as your thumb — located on the palm side of your wrist. This tunnel protects a main nerve to your hand and nine tendons that bend your fingers. Compression of the nerve produces the numbness, pain and, eventually, hand weakness that characterize carpal tunnel syndrome.
Fortunately, for most people who develop carpal tunnel syndrome, proper treatment usually can relieve the pain and numbness and restore normal use of their wrists and hands.
Common carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms include:
-Tingling or numbness in your fingers or hand, especially your thumb and index, middle or ring fingers, but not your little finger. This sensation often occurs while holding a steering wheel, phone or newspaper or upon awakening. Many people “shake out” their hands to try to relieve their symptoms. As the disorder progresses, the numb feeling may become constant.
-Pain radiating or extending from your wrist up your arm to your shoulder or down into your palm or fingers, especially after forceful or repetitive use. This usually occurs on the palm side of your forearm.
-A sense of weakness in your hands and a tendency to drop objects.